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University to close Basilica for organ installation

| Tuesday, December 8, 2015

This winter break, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart will close for three weeks for the next phase of the Murdy Family Organ installation, the University announced in a press release Monday morning. The Basilica will close Dec. 28 through Jan. 15, reopening for the 5 p.m. Vigil Mass on Jan. 16. All liturgies will be celebrated in the Sacred Heart Parish Crypt while the Basilica is closed.

“The new Murdy Family Organ, to be fully operational by Christmas 2016, will replace the current Holtkamp Organ,” the release stated. “In 2013-14, the Basilica closed for renovations including the removal of carpeting and the installation of slate tile flooring to aid acoustics. This year’s closure will allow for workers to make space for the new Murdy Family Organ.”

Andrew McShane, associate director for music and liturgy in the Office of Campus Ministry, said the Holtkamp organ cannot sustain all the activities for which the Basilica needs it.

“The current Holtkamp Organ was not designed to be played as frequently as it is now, and the sound quality has continued to suffer,” McShane said in the release. “Two Masses each day along with choir rehearsals and ongoing student practice sessions have created serious operating issues. The Basilica has simply outgrown the current organ and there is a need for a larger, better functioning organ to occupy the space and sustain the Basilica for years to come.”

While the Basilica is closed, the Holtkamp Organ will be removed and work to reinforce the balcony from the basement to the loft will begin.

“Reinforcement is necessary as the Murdy Family Organ is substantially heavier than the existing organ,” the release stated. “In addition, all of the pews in the west transept will be removed to make room for the choirs that will begin singing near the interim organ in January. The choirs will be relocated back to the choir loft once the Murdy Family Organ is functional.”

The Murdy Family Organ will arrive in August 2016 from Tacoma, Washington, where Paul Fritts and Co. Organ Builders are designing and constructing it, according to the press release.

“The entire assembly and voicing process will take approximately four months to complete and will be accomplished by the Fritts team at night and during off hours,” the release stated.

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